There isn’t really anywhere to go in this temporary home. There isn’t any secret room where your emotions and frustrations and misunderstandings are the only ones present. Instead, the entire house is a stew of every fear, question, longing, and anger that all five of us hold. And they all collide and become offensive and make the small space seem smaller and the stench that would be tolerable outside is unbearable. And that air stench seems to ferment with time and gain new, deeper layers – more to take in, harder to avoid.
I have every ability to leave. I have a car with half a tank of gas and there is nothing stopping me from taking it far away – except for the injustice. Who am I to run away in my car from the small house and all of its hulking emotions, when my mother is left with there to try and live through her own complexities in the midst of that foul odor? Of course, she doesn’t really want to leave. But it would be unfair, all the same, to run away to open spaces and breathable air and leave her there.
My sister would leave in a heartbeat. She’s the kind that smells the tainted air and is bothered by it and cannot escape it and so gives into it – becomes part of it. Give her blue skies and she’s fine. I’m similar – a windy day and a cup of coffee can remedy most ailments. But, that small house full of our unsure air, makes me shrink and hide. And if I’m in it long enough, I snap and become a roaring monster, blaming every malady on the people around me – then I close again. I retreat into myself as I cannot retreat in my car. And I could. But I won’t. How cruel would that be to Audrey who only needs to breathe clean air to be herself again. To leave without her would be depriving her of being herself, and that is an injustice to all of humanity from what I know of being oneself – ones true self.
Yet, I don’t want to take her with me. I fear my own aura of confused and unknown and unsure needs room all to itself. And my brother always wants to do, to do, to do – sitting still drives him mad, unless he’s watching tv or looking up skateboards and airsoft guns or videos about skateboards and airsoft guns. So, even though he would want to come with me because it is something to do, he’d be bored and annoyed the entire time.
But I did go. And I took my sister. And I bribed my brother with a Peace Tea. And we got hopelessly lost for nearly 2 hours, and we split the flakiest apple turnover I’ve ever seen, and we each had a cup of the self-proclaimed “best” coffee in Denver, and it rained, and it was good. Very good. Then, we came home, our spirits light, our minds somewhat clear, our memories free of the small, very full, house. We opened the door, we walked inside, and my sister’s spirits remained high, her mind remained clear, her view of the house was cozy, not small. I was sucked into the big, full air in that small space and my spirit was doused with sludge and my mind clouded and I wanted to turn and leave again – and not come back.
I am full of unanswers. And when I want to run away, it is from them. And it is from the people in the house also full of unanswers – because that’s not something one can commiserate about, more people just adds to the weight.
And I want to be the hopeful, joyful one. But, really, I don’t. I can’t find the will or energy to be so when I’m in that small space.
And when I woke up this morning, I felt like I was a reprobate for going to bed so late when I knew it would keep others up – like I wasn’t allowed to talk to God after that without being pious and regretful and I was neither.
And there were points in the small house that I didn’t feel so terrible – when I could make it seem cozy because it’s dreary outside and we could all watch movies and eat popcorn and be close.
But mostly, it felt like we were all covered in prickles and slime and being close was repulsive and painful. And mostly the rainless, grey skies just became part of me, or I part of them.
Aidan tried to cheer me. He’s trying now. And I feel myself smiling, and I let myself smile, but the weight on my chest covers my eyes and ears and turns his joy and optimism to a nuisance. I feel like crying now, where before I felt only like screaming and running. That’s movement. So, it’s probably good.
I’m making hot tea now. Mom and I are alone in the house and there’s a stillness that’s settling. And we understand one another well, mom and I, so though we’re still full of unanswers and uncertainties, I’m coming to rest. And my hand crafted mug has the words “life is a journey” etched onto the bottom. And I’m reminded that rainy days happen, but we must go on. And there are two phrases from Andrew Peterson songs nursing me to life and bringing me to tears because they are deep, simple truth:
“So listen little girl, somewhere there’s a king who will love you forever.”
And I remember I can be held by him – he doesn’t care one wit about my prickles and slime or the foul, unanswered air surrounding me. And I let him. And I cry out the other phrase,
And I don’t want to go back. I just want to go on and on and on.
On and on and on.